Another tale by Glasgow John, about a climb with the long-suffering Jack.
After the Beinn Eighe epic, it took me a long time to persuade Jack to come out with me again, however in June 1982 the weather was good, so off we went to Sgoran Dubh. We camped under the cliffs, and the next day found us looking for Married Men’s Buttress.
After much confusion, I started up a little 40 foot buttress on sound rock, indeed the only sound rock we found that day. Higher up we gained a rickety aréte; while I tried to understand the guidebook Jack spoke of retreat, even offering me a thousand pounds if I got him down alive. Very tempting! However, on we went to the next pitch, which looked much harder than a Diff, I thought. When I got about 70 foot up, in a wide bridge with one runner, I knew this could not be Diff. I was gripped, and finished the pitch with much relief.
Well shaken, I went round a loose corner. Jack was swearing again, which did not help me think as I put a large sling over a dubious spike. The block I was standing on started to part company with the rest of the cliff; I shouted a warning to Jack below. We had no helmets, as you might have guessed! It missed him, but only just. I ignored the swearing from below, as I was now hanging from a sling and feeling very sweaty indeed; the smell of brimstone was overpowering.
Later that day when we reached the top of the cliff, I offered Jack my hand – he declined. After a big argument back at the tent about loose climbs and loose climber’s brains, we packed up the tent and walked back to Aviemore in silence. Some weeks passed; he rang me up and said, “You nearly killed me!” I replied, “These things happen, you know.” We laughed.
We still go fishing together – sometimes.